The painting has been rendered pursuing the provincial idiom of Mughal art style of its decadent phase as it was practised at its provincial headquarters like Oudh around 1830-40 A.D. Though a largely formal rendition with somewhat dramatically gesticulated figures completely missing Mughals’ grandeur, vigour and spirit which the Mughal art had during the period of Jahangir and Shahjahan, it outstands in other aspects – minutely conceived details, iconography of figures, anatomical proportions, use of soft colour tones, and above all, in discovering the mid-nineteenth century renaissance spirit that transformed the street-walker into an artist’s canvas image.
The painting’s main theme has been set inside a shop the opening of which an arched door-frame comprising fluted marble columns with lotus-base and rounded brackets on either side elevates. The entire door-opening and the shop’s face above it, all constructed with calibrated marble slabs, have been richly wrought with floral arabesques rendered in gold. This splendid opening affords to the painting’s principal theme its innermost frame and unity. It has besides it a gorgeous border rendered in gold, a deeper golden background being the base colour, while uniformly conceived and designed leafy arabesques ringing around floral motifs, its designing pattern. The shop is a perfect specimen of the type of shops that the medieval or rather Mughal India had. Mughal forts and walled towns like the Delhi’s Red Fort and Shahjahanabad, Shahjahan’s walled city of Delhi, had uniformly structured long rows of shops built with perfect symmetry and in straight lines unless a designing scheme otherwise provided.
Besides such planned clusters of them, an arched opening was the most natural format for a shop anywhere. In medieval India, outer portions of residential buildings were widely used for commercial activities, trading in particularly. With Mughal links arches – arched doorways, window openings, balconies and elevations, were seen as defining India’s architectural culture and a man’s social status during the entire period of about three hundred years of the Mughal rule in India. Obviously with most of the buildings having arched openings and such openings being used for shops, in medieval India arches and shops were inseparably linked.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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